Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Newest Family Member (sort of)

Okay, here's the deal with Bean. That's the codename for the little boy we are mentoring (and marketing for a family). He is 7 years old and has lived in and out of hospitals and institutional settings for his whole life. Not because he has behavior problems, but because of medical issues. He is in a residential group home right now because they can not find a family willing to foster or adopt him. Bean can walk and talk and read and play, but is in a group home with severely handicapped children. Not really the best environment for a kid like him. But there are no other options at this point.

How I met Bean. My mom used to be his Occupational Therapist. She fell in love with him and thought about adopting him herself but there have been some obstacles. It is still a possibility in the future, however. After hearing her talk about him so much, I decided to meet him, to see if it would be a possibility for my husband and I to foster/adopt him. I met Bean this summer but the timing was not great because Mateo was going in for surgery and he was having some medical problems. Plus, it was looking likely that my mom could start the licensing classes that fall. Well, a few months later, things fell through with my mom, Mateo was doing great, and I started thinking about Bean again. In fact, I just couldn't get him out of my mind. Which, to me, seemed like a sign. I am one of "those people" who believes and is always looking for "signs" that something is the right thing to do. Usually from God, sometimes from my own imagination. My husband was not on board with the foster or adoption idea from the beginning, so that plan was out. But I still felt like I should do something. That's when I got the idea for mentoring.

Actually, mentoring is the closest one word I can think of to describe what we're doing, but it's not really accurate. We are planning to integrate Bean into our family for outings and occasional weekends to give him the experience of a family, since he's never really had that experience being in hospitals his whole life. He does have a birthfamily, of course, but they are minimally involved at this point.

So we went to visit Bean in his group home yesterday, we brought some toys and were able to just play with him and get to know him. He is a delightful child, albeit a bit quirky, but surely interesting. He definitely has many special needs. He is delayed, but in regular kindergarten and learning to read. He does have hearing aides and a feeding tube, but is making progress eating by mouth. He is fun and cute and energetic and affectionate. But he's also a lot of work. Which is why we can not adopt him at this time.

I am open minded (and hearted) and there is the possibility that while developing a relationship with him, we both fall in love and change our minds. But at this point, with an active and needy two year old, we would be in over our heads. Believe me, it took a long time for me to come to the point where I could accept that I can't be Bean's mommy. I can be his friend, big sister, auntie, whatever, but not his mom. And that was hard for me to do, because I have such a big heart and hate to see children left behind. Bean has tons of potential but will only get so far living in a group home without a permanent family invested in his future, that can love and nurture him. The reason social services is allowing us to do this (besides hoping we will change our minds about adopting him) is because they believe every child deserves permanency in their lives. Children being cared for in group homes or being tossed from foster home to foster home don't develop consistent relationships, which as we all know, can lead to problems attaching and becoming a successful person in the real world. So they are allowing us to be that caring "somebody" in Bean's life that can provide permanency and consistency. We are happy to oblige, it's the least we can do for this sweet little guy. After all, it's not his fault he can't be with his family and there is a shortage of medically complex homes.

So we have committed to taking Bean out into the community with us or to our house for the weekend at least once per month until he finds a family (and maybe longer). Hopefully, someone will come forward soon, or my mom can be licensed and we can really be Bean's big brother and sister! But for now, I'm hoping we can at least give him a positive family experience and a consistent relationship with people who care about him.

They are looking for an adoptive family for Bean, so if you, or anyone you know, would be interested in this special little boy, please leave your email address in my comments :)


Devan said...

Dave can be a funny man, such as showing a one year old pictures of China on his laptop in the car in order to attempt to "soothe" the child out of a screaming melt down.

Rachel said...

I really admire what you are doing. I am hoping that after my husband gets a permanent job, we can be stable enough to do something similar, or even adopt. It really makes me sad to hear about all the children that have never experienced normalcy. They really do not have a shot at life unless someone intervenes.

Kim said...

I am glad that you are able to do what you are for this little guy. I have thought about trying to do something similar until we are able to really start moving toward adoption again. Right now our house doesn't have room for one more, so we'd never pass a home study. :( At least Bean is getting to experience things he never would without you.